February 19, 2003

First to game

One of the interesting features of the computer game market in Russia is that quite often new games appear in Russia earlier than they do in Europe and the States. Probably the most noticeable case of that was Arcanum - Russians could play the final and complete version of it more than a month before it appeared in stores all over the world. And today I saw ads announcing the availability of Master of Orion 3 (which has the official release date of February 25th).

The reason for that is simple. There is always a delay between the date the final gold build is made and the date it appears in stores. And the pirates don't have to wait - they just grab the gold build as soon as it's available and start printing the CDs. And it looks like the distribution network of the pirates here is quite a bit more efficient than the official one.

And only in very rare cases, and for the most wanted games, pirates publish betas or other early versions. (For example, "Doom 3, Russian and English version" has been available for several months already, but the CD actually contains the leaked E3 demo, and not the complete game. Of course, this isn't advertised anywhere on the CD.) Thus, when you buy a pirated English version of the game, you can be pretty sure that it's the real thing.

However, the majority of the people here prefer buying Russian versions of the game. Thus, as soon as a new game appears, various pirate companies hurry to translate it as quickly as possible - every additional day taken by the translations means many thousands of lost CD sales. And you can imagine the usual quality of such translations, when the whole production cycle of a translation takes three or four days.

Nowadays, more and more games are officially localized and published. Official localizations generally use the same "per CD" pricing scheme as the pirates do, and the prices are just a little bit higher - $3 per CD, as compared to $2 per CD for pirated disks. The quality is, of course, much higher, and usually the pirated releases of a game magically disappear from the stores once the official localization is published. But official localizations take much longer to appear - several months, usually - so most people don't bother waiting for them and buy whatever appears earlier.

(I really want this blog to become more than a list of announcements for new builds of Syndirella. Hopefully there will be much more posts like that in the future. :-) )

Posted by yole at February 19, 2003 12:50 PM | TrackBack

Yole, thanks so much for the hard work on the app. Really enjoying it. It's the first time I've heavily used a news aggregator and it's like a whole new world. Love to see more posts about other stuff, like this one. The more cross-cultural exchange the better, it helps us all to understand each other better and realize when it comes down to it we are just people.

Posted by: Curtis Swartzentruber on February 19, 2003 06:56 PM

You are doing a great job.

I tell my friends that aggregators now are where WWW browsers were in 1994. Programs like Mosaic and Cello worked well enough to let you see the potential, but they did not work very well. Better browsers came along, created excitement, and helped attract millions of people. I'm glad you are trying to push the envelope on aggregators.

One feature that might help: Give the user the option to control how many words of a post are downloaded. This would help when you have people who do not use headlines and have long postings.

Posted by: Jerry Lawson on February 21, 2003 09:58 PM
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